A few weeks ago I wrote about my craving for Afghan kebabs. Chef Google revealed the only intriguing recipe was written entirely in Urdu. Some of you expressed interest, including Azmina and Muslim Wife, who are such awesome cooks I got a bit nervous venturing into recipe-sharing territory, but this dish? It’s good [At least the most important food critic in my life, K, seems to think so]. It’s affordable. And deserves translation.
What I’m sharing is an adaptation of the original as I’m incapable of following a recipe step-by-step [Just ask my dear friend Saba who witnessed in abject horror as I measured the oil and water for brownie batter. With a drinking cup]. I’m just an andaza se type of girl. When the mood strikes to make a dish, I look up 5-10 different recipes, pick my favorites out of each and make it according to what feels right. Here I only had one recipe to work with so altered ingredients upon subsequent attempts. [Yes, we’ve eaten this dish three times in two weeks, its that yummy]. Julia wrote this lovely post about cooking and its correlation with creativity and I must agree. Ever since I began working on my manuscripts, I’ve noticed an uptick on my willingness to experiment with my cooking. In short, this is not a literal rendering of the recipe but my interpretation. Use and lose heat-inducing spices at your discretion because this recipe as written will make wasabi taste like guacamole.
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped cilantra
1 large chopped onion
1-2 chopped jalapeno
1 tspn salt [to taste!]
1/4 tspn crushed red pepper [can be plenty spicy without this so use only if you feel the jalapeno you picked is not particularly hot]
2 teaspoon whole black pepper freshly ground [Freshly ground black pepper is what makes this dish sparkle and I can attest to this as I’ve made it both with fresh and preground peppers, the difference in taste is remarkable]
1 14.5 oz can of crushed tomato
1 tbspn lemon juice
[I also added three cloves when I ground the black pepper, I enjoyed the extra kick but not necessary if you don’t have any on you]
Combine the ground beef with half the cilantro, half the onions, all of the jalapeno, salt, red pepper and 1 tspn of black pepper. Knead it together with your hands so its blended.
Divide the meat into four separate balls, make sure to press and mold them so the ingredients stick together.
Flatten each piece as thin as you can. Place on oiled and heated frying pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side before removing, the inside will be a little rare. Repeat with the rest and then chop them fajita-cut strip-style and set to the side.
In a separate sauce pan, fry the rest of the onions until they are golden brown. Add the crushed tomato sauce, salt, pepper, red pepper, and lemon juice. Stir until the oil separates from the sauce. Add the beef strips. If you feel like its not saucy enough like I did, add 1/4 cup of water, cover and simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally and adding water if it feels like its sticking. Turn off and garnish with remaining cilantro..
Eat with rice [if you like], defrosted naan [if you must], and really, if you are anywhere near an Indian or Pakistani joint, pick up some fresh naan hot off the tandoor because it really just tastes better that way. [And I’d have shared the pictures of the final product- except um, it got consumed rather quickly]
Hope you like the recipe, if you try it do let me know!
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